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About Dry Beans

Cooking with beans is one of the cheapest ways to get protein on the table. Varieties abound but here in the desert southwest pinto beans, mayacoba beans, black beans and black eyed peas tend to do best in our hot climate. Cook two or three bags at a time to make a big batch and save some to freeze for easy use later (it’s best not to mix bean varieties when cooking as they will require different cook times). Beans have been a staple for us a the Tucson CSA since we started. As a shelf stable item they are perfect for rounding out our shares when harvests are difficult or crops are struggling because of the weather. It is best to soak beans overnight before cooking. You can also cover with boiling water and let soak one hour if you forgot or skip the soaking altogether.

Dry Beans Basic Recipe

1 bag beans, sorted and soaked

½ cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano and/or thyme

1 bay leaf

1 dried chile, optional


Put the beans in a soup pot, cover them with 2 quarts water, and boil hard for 10 minutes. Skim away any foam on the top, then add the onion, garlic, herbs and chile. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until they’re partially tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt and a tablespoon or so of good oil, continue cooking until they’re soft, 15 to 30 minutes more. Taste for salt and add more as needed.

Slow cooked beans in a crockpot are also great, beans can cook during the workday on the low setting, ready for an easy dinner. Instant Pot users will want to prepare beans following manufacturer’s recommendations.

The bean broth is tasty and will enrich many dishes so don’t discard it. Store beans in their broth in the fridge for up to 5 days or in freezer for up to 6 months.

Cooked beans are a great base for chiles and soups. They are also a perfect addition to pasta dishes and can be mixed with other chopped ingredients for chunky dips or pureed like hummus.